Four days into the school year, two students in the Janesville School District have tested positive for coronavirus, and some classmates are being told to quarantine for 14 days.
In an email in response to a Gazette request, district spokesman Patrick Gasper said two students in two different schools have tested positive for coronavirus. He would not say which schools.
The Gazette heard from two parents that one of the schools was Craig High School.
Gasper said the two students had no symptoms when they attended their schools last week but later tested positive.
“There is no evidence the students obtained COVID-19 at school,” the email states.
The district would not say how many students were told to quarantine.
Revealing the number of students affected would violate rules that say schools may not reveal “personally identifiable information,” Gasper said.
The district does not plan to use virtual learning because of these incidents “at this time,” Gasper said.
Gasper said he knows of no staff member who has tested positive.
Custodians are following county health department guidance for classrooms occupied by a person who tested positive, Gasper said.
The guidance says to ventilate and wait at least 24 hours, if possible, and then to clean and disinfect the room, Gasper said.
Families have been notified by letter about quarantining or, if they are at lower risk, are told to monitor for symptoms, Gasper said.
“The Rock County Public Health Department is managing all communications with families and conducting all the follow-up interviews/contact tracing,” the email states.
“Staff in buildings affected have been notified of the positive test results and that any staff directly impacted had a direct conversation with a building administrator,” the email continues.
The email says student and staff health information and “student communicable disease-related information” are confidential by law.
“Even if a family/student acknowledges and publicly discloses a positive test, school staff and officials will not participate in discussions or acknowledge a positive test result if personally identifiable information is involved,” the email reads.
Gasper provided copies of letters sent to parents Friday by Director of Pupil Services Kim Peerenboom—one letter to the parents of children who were in “close contact” with the infected students and one to parents whose children shared classroom or other space with the student but are not being required to quarantine.
The letter for students required to quarantine states in part: “Persons within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes are considered close contacts and are at increased risk of developing this infection. A person who is a close contact with someone during their potential infectious period is required to self-quarantine for at least 14-days after the most recent contact. You are receiving this letter because your child has shared a classroom or other gathering space with the tested individual and meets the criteria of a close contact. Your child is required to self-quarantine.”
The other letter states in part:
“You are receiving this letter because your child has shared a classroom or other gathering space with the tested individual, but did NOT meet the criteria of a close contact and is NOT required to self-quarantine.
“The Rock County Public Health Department or the Wisconsin State Contact Tracing Team has completed a full investigation with this individual and determined that your child has had limited contact with the infected person,” the letter continues. “Although we must protect the privacy of the person involved, the health and safety of our staff and students is a top priority. …”
The letter goes on to give the school name and date the infected student last attended “to help you make a well-informed decision for your family.”
“The Rock County Public Health Department has been in contact with the positive individual and anyone who has been deemed a close contact. These students and staff are in home quarantine and will only be allowed to return once they have met the state of Wisconsin release criteria.
“As mentioned above, your child has not been identified as being at significant risk of exposure and may continue to attend school in-person. If your child exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you keep him/her home and seek the advice of your medical provider immediately.”
The letter refers any parent questions to the Rock County Public Health Department, 608-757-5440, or the family physician.
“The presence of COVID-19 in individuals in our schools is reflective of the presence of COVID-19 in the greater Janesville community,” Gasper wrote. “We must all continue working together to minimize the risk and spread of this disease,” the email continues. “This serves as a good reminder to the entire community to continue wearing their face masks, wash hands thoroughly and frequently, to monitor for symptoms, and to stay home when sick.”